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INTRODUCTORY   ESSAY.                                   23
form distinct from cither parent, does, in one sense, create
what may temporarily pass for a species \ and in so far as this
hybrid combines the characters of both parents, it tempora-
rily obliterates the distinctive characters of each. All, then,
that we could legitimately conclude from these facts is, that
were hybrids of universal occurrence, they would have obli-
terated all traces of species, but that, exceptional in art, and
not proven if not almost impossible in nature, they cannot be
assumed to have produced any appreciable result.
There are, however, other points connected with the subject
of hybridity, which are of practical importance to the syste-
matist; and in the first place, the fact of its being generally
assumed by continental botanists that hybrids do occur iii na-
ture, must not be overlooked. Thus we have so-called hybrid
gentians in the Jura, and hybrid thistles iu. Germany; whence
the possibility of similar prodiictions occiirring in India is to
be borne in mind. It is, however, a singular fact, that these
hybrids are vouched for only in genera most notoriously
apt to vary, and mainly by hair-splitting botanists. In the
course of our f*tcr.cW wanderings, it has been our habit to
acquaint' ourselves with tho plants as we gathered them, and
so to observe their differential characters in the field, that we
were never .at a loss for the tncans of understanding one an-
other wheu alluding to .any particular species; yet we never
met with a plant that suggested to us even a suspicion of hy-
bridisation. Dr. Wallich, whose tropical experience is pro-
bably greater than that of ony other botanist whatever, and
whose mind and eyes were ahvays open to seize characters and
discriminate species, makes the same remark, Griffith, a man
of singular powers of observation, and ^-'iosc experience was
very great, never alludes to the subject; nor is the existence
of hybrids in nature ever noticed in the pages of Roxburgh,
Jack, Wight, or Gardner (of Ceylon) *, It is very true that
* M. Jordan lias not imfreqiwutly, it would apjx&y, found that seeds col-
lected on particular species have produced a different form, aud he has uot hesi-
tated to infer tliat the ovule* of the plant Jiad been impregnated by a different